Letter from Copenhagen
Nikolaj Hübbe to take over his parent company
by Eva Kistrup
copyright © 2007 by Eva Kistrup
The NYCB Principal Dancer Nikolaj Hübbe returns to his native Copenhagen as Ballet Master [Artistic Director] for Royal Danish Ballet in mid-2008.
Eight years ago, Hübbe was the favorate to become Ballet Master at the Royal Danish Ballet, but was passed over in favour of surprise choice Aage Thordahl-Christensen. His reaction to the answermail message from CEO Michael Christiansen is captured in the portrait-film made by ballet dancer turned film maker Ulrik Wivel. History unfortunately proved that the appointment of Thordahl-Christensen was just another in a long list of failed management choices.
Luckily enough, Hübbe did not stay offended for the past eight years, and has now accepted the post. He will take over from Frank Andersen next year and will start soon to put his mark on the company as its director.
That Hübbe matches the primary requirement for leading the historic company — a good grip on Bournonville — was demonstrated by his fine production of "La Sylphide" a few seasons ago, where he infused the classic and the casts with new energy and theatrical flair. He believes in Bournonville and is proud of the company's traditions. He is dedicated to continue to build the RDB's pedigree as a story telling company, but hopefully will also include some Balanchine and Robbins in the repertoire. Hübbe comes to the post with little management experience and has only choreographed snippets, like a piece for the opening of a new Danish railway line, but is it genuinely believed by the ballet community here that his dedication, courage and strong beliefs will substitute for more formal experience. He will bring a much-needed glamour and should have no problem in matching the press appeal of opera chief whiz boy Kasper Holten Bech.
Although Frank Andersen will leave him a well-drilled company, Hübbe will face serious challenges early in his run. The repertoire has had few really successful additions, the school has not turned out many good dancers, and his own generation of dancers will reach the pension age within a few years and leave a gigantic gap in the principal and soloist ranks.
Allthough Hübbe has at times showed a rather high handed attitude to the heritage — like when at last year's Bournonville seminar stated that he would never bother with Bournonville's "Far from Denmark" — taking on the mantle, he has accepted everything that goes with the post — including Far from Denmark.
Photo by David Amzallag.
Volume 5, No. 13
April 2, 2007
copyright ©2007 by Eva Kistrup